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3 ways to create a Will and leave a legacy to last generations

POSTED February 25, 2021

3 ways to create a Will and leave a legacy to last generations

Find out which works best for you and how Children Believe can help simplify the process

By Brianne Binelli, digital content manager, Canada

Boy forms a heart with his hands

The thought of creating a Will may seem daunting, but it’s so important. This is your chance to make sure everything you’ve worked so hard to secure falls into the hands of those you love and respect. It also gives you the chance to leave a legacy that will last for generations.

If you’re home during the pandemic, it’s a great time to start thinking about this important life step. Below is a snapshot of your options with pros and cons for each. Take a moment to read and research the best way to build or update your Will, so you can have peace of mind tomorrow.

Hiring a lawyer

Hiring a lawyer is a traditional choice for creating a Will. This is especially true if your estate is complex and you want to reduce risks of mistakes or oversights.

Generally, lawyers will request you consult with them or an assistant by phone, then you’d traditionally book an in-person interview, then wait a few days for the first draft to be prepared. The process may require multiple visits during a few weeks, with varying costs, depending on the lawyer.

Keep in mind: you’ll need to update your Will following major life events, such as getting married or divorced, having a child or becoming a grandparent. Although it varies by lawyer, each major revision will likely incur an additional cost.

Pros: A lawyer can provide personalized advice to your specific situation. If you feel your context is complicated, a consultation with a lawyer is highly recommended.

Cons: This will take time and could be costly, depending on your lawyer.

Handwriting a Will (Holographic Wills)

This process is still commonly used in emergency situations, such as when the writer (or testator) is near death or alone.

When drafting this type of Will, you’d need to consider many points, such as the part of the estate remaining after charges, debts and specific bequests are paid (known as the residue), powers of executors and trustees, substitutes or alternate plans as well as arrangements for minor children and pets.

Whether handwritten on the back of a napkin — we don’t recommend this of course! — or typed and printed out, this type of Will becomes a legal document once the hard copy is signed by you and witnessed and signed by two other people not already included as beneficiaries in the Will.

Pros: You can reduce the perceived complexity of creating a Will without spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer.

Cons: When you’re not an expert, you risk introducing errors or leaving out important information.

Online Will-writing service or app

Although web-based Will-writing services have existed for nearly 20 years, they’ve grown in popularity in the past couple of years. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a record year for online Wills in Canada in 2020. It quickly became a reliable, socially distant alternative to hiring a lawyer.

A web-based Will-writing service is similar to other self-guided tools, such as a tax-preparation software. The online software guides you through a series of questions (similar to a lawyer’s interview process). Then, personalized documents are auto-generated. These templated documents — which are similar to those used by lawyers — are generated based on your jurisdiction of residence.

Once you’ve reviewed the documents, you can download them to sign and have two people witness and sign the completed Will to make it a legal document. In this case, be sure to refer to the online platform you’re using to identify individuals who can legally act as witnesses.

Pros: This easy-to-use, affordable option is ideal to complete from your home office. It allows you to create or update your Will while also being guided through the best ways to support your loved ones and favourite charities.

Cons: If you feel you have a complex estate-planning situation, you would not have the guidance about your specific situation, which a lawyer could provide.

How can Children Believe help?

Children Believe has partnered with Willfora, Canada’s only online Will-writing platform, purpose-built for legacy giving and supported by the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University.

If you’d like to learn more about creating your Will for FREE through a secure online platform, please visit our Children Believe microsite, accessed through Willfora’s Wills platform.

To learn more about Children Believe, and how you can leave a legacy for generations to come, visit childrenbelieve.ca/planned-giving.

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE (formerly Christian Children's Fund of Canada):

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60 years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

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A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of 12 child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in more than 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.